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Sachin Pilot begins farmers’ march in CM Raje’s turf, sounds Rajasthan poll bugle

Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot demanded a crop loan waiver for the state on the lines of similar decisions in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

jaipur Updated: Oct 03, 2017 20:23 IST
Aabshar H Quazi
Aabshar H Quazi
Hindustan Times, Baran
Sachin Pilot,Rajasthan Congress,Kisan Nyay Padyatra
Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot leads a farmers’ rally in a rally in Jhalawar on Tuesday. (HT  Photo)

Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot kicked off on Tuesday a four-day rally focusing on growing agricultural distress in the state, including demands for a loan waiver and government purchase of crops at minimum support prices.

Pilot started the ‘Kisan Nyay Padyatra’ (Justice for Farmers rally) from Baran. The rally will cover about 100 kilometres on foot before ending at Jhalawar, chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s constituency, later this week.

“Farmers of the state are in distress owing to crop loans and 75 farmers have committed suicide but the state government has no sympathy towards farmers and no government representatives has bothered to meet the families of the deceased,” Pilot told the thousands-strong crowd.

The 40-year-old leader demanded a crop loan waiver for the state on the lines of similar decisions in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, and alleged the chief minister was delaying the announcement to time it with the elections and reap political benefit.

Farmers in Rajasthan have been protesting against falling crop prices and indifferent government support mechanism and just withdrew a massive demonstration in Sikar two weeks ago after assurance of a loan waiver. But many experts warn that in the absence of far-reaching government measures, the agricultural distress would continue.

Pilot said the BJP administration had constituted a committee to look into waiving farm loans of only up to Rs 50,000, and had packed the panel with ministers and bureaucrats instead of opposition leaders and farmers. “The Congress will compel the Rajasthan government to waive loans completely through this yatra,” he said.

He said the BJP-led state government was anti-farmer because it had “failed to provide due prices of farmer’s crop” despite promising 50% additional profit on the cost of cultivation. “Around 10 lakh farmers in Rajasthan have still not got their due crop compensation of their crops damaged in hailstorm around one and a half years ago”, he alleged.

Pilot was accompanied by state leader of opposition Rameshwar Dudi, Congress secretary Tarun Kumar and a clutch of former ministers. Pilot is scheduled to visit more than 30 villages as he walks through two districts to Jhalawar on October 6.

Rajasthan BJP president Ashok Parnami called the rally politically motivated and said it was being held with an eye on by-elections in Ajmer, Alwar and Mandalgarh.

“In the last 55 years, Congress has not given compensation for crop damage of up to 50% while the BJP has given compensation for crop damage of 33%. I want to know how much interest-free loan the Congress gave to farmers through the cooperatives,” he said.

“The Congress has only exploited farmers. We have said that we will double farmers income by 2022 and we are working for reducing input costs and increasing their profits,” Parnami added.

First Published: Oct 03, 2017 20:10 IST